Coffee Chat With Ally Shields

PictureCheck out my January 30 Coffee Chat with urban fantasy writer Ally Shields. https://allyshields.com/blog.html

I enjoyed answering her thought-provoking questions about my writing journey and about Primary Source, the soon-to-be-released fifth book in my Aimee Machado Mystery Series.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/primary-source-sharon-st-george/1129752844?ean=9781603815833

IED HAS TWO MEANINGS – BOTH ARE EXPLOSIVE

You might think you know what an IED is. I thought I did, but I was only half right. Most of us who have followed the various military conflicts in the Middle East are familiar with the term. It’s an abbreviation for a deadly roadside weapon called an Improvised Explosive Device.

There is another IED, however, which is often described as a “temper tantrum,”  or “flying off the handle,” but it is more than that. It is a psychological diagnosis found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 for short), and it’s called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Coincidentally, it can also be set off on a roadside, as seen in cases of road rage. This diagnosis is another fact I’ve learned by writing fiction.

In Breach of Ethics, book three of my Aimee Machado Mystery series, an angry outburst occurs in a most unlikely setting—a hospital conference room during a meeting of the Ethics Committee. Until I wrote the scene, I had never heard of this other IED. Taking on the persona of my protagonist, a hospital-based health sciences librarian, I decided to research impulsive rage, and in doing so, I discovered Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

In some cases, as in extreme road rage incidents, this lesser-known IED does turn deadly. As defined by the Mayo Clinic, “Intermittent Explosive Disorder involves repeated, sudden episodes of impulsive, aggressive, violent behavior or angry verbal outbursts . . . grossly out of proportion to the situation. Road rage, domestic abuse, throwing or breaking objects, or other temper tantrums may be signs of intermittent explosive disorder.” Simply put, this explosive disorder brings out the beast in some of us in a terrifying manner.

Once diagnosed, treatment might include a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medications, including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antianxiety and mood regulators.

For more detailed information on diagnosis and treatment of this disorder, visit the sites shown below.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/intermittent-explosive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20373921
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/intermittent-explosive-disorder
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/treating-intermittent-explosive-disorder
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17786-intermittent-explosive-disorder

The Aimee Machado Mystery series, published by Camel Press and Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries, is available in print and e-Book format from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and by request from your local bookstore. Visit again soon to learn more facts I’ve learned by writing fiction. Primary Source, book 5 in the series, is due for release in mid-February.

(Bear photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash)

 

Get Hip to HIPAA: Hackers Want Your Health Data

I have a question for you. What do hackers want more—your Social Security number or your health information?

If you guessed Social Security, you’re wrong. Here’s another fact I learned by writing fiction. The answer is health data, and criminal hackers are busy stealing it every chance they get.

Despite this alarming trend, there is some protection in place for patient privacy. In 1996, the United States legislature passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act  known as HIPAA. This act provides for data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

The passage of this act was meant to protect patients’ privacy, but it means nothing to a criminal hacker whose day job is stealing your health data. The law has emerged into greater prominence in recent years with the proliferation of health data breaches caused by cyberattacks and ransomware attacks on health insurers and providers.

Hackers can fetch only around $15 a pop on the web for a Social Security number, but a medical record with personal information attached can go for $60 or more. 

Criminals can use health data to create fake identities that allow them to buy and resell medical equipment or drugs, to file fake claims with insurers, or to file fake tax returns. Hackers will use stolen hospital records for extortion—the patient must pay to keep from having their records sold on the dark web.

One reason health data fetches more dollars is that medical identity theft can go undetected for years. The modern practice of electronically storing medical records rather than using paper charts has resulted in a bonanza for criminal hackers. They can sneak in with a few taps on a keyboard, grab the data, and sneak out without being detected.,

How is this possible? One explanation is that medical facilities and private practices tend to put patient care items first when considering expenditures. If the budget is tight, money is not spent to replace aging computer systems, hire IT consultants, and upgrade security infrastructure. These cost-cutting practices make hackers’ work remarkably easy.

Visit these sites for more complete information on this topic:

https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/Pages/1.00WhatisHIPAA.aspx

https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/YourHealthInformationYourRights_Infographic-Web.pdf\

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/guidance-materials-for-consumers/index.html

The security of health data is a recurring theme in the hospital-based Aimee Machado Mystery series published by Camel Press, an imprint of Epicenter Press. Available in print and eBook formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and by request at your local bookstore. http://camelpress.com/